You might think that the Old Gods and the demons would get along. After all, both really just seem to want to kill everything on the planet. Apparently, you'd be thinking wrong. Strange, I know, but I guess there can be more than one reason to destroy a world, and these two butt heads over who should get to do it. Personally, I'm all for killing both -- well, killing those who refuse to become my slaves, that is.
Due to that whole "must destroy the world" shtick, we find now find ourselves face to face with yet another dungeon full of monstrosities to wipe clear. With as many of these cults and beasties as there seem to be, you'd think the races of Azeroth would just stop caring by now. This time, the diabolical threat is Cho'gall, the leader of the Twilight's Hammer, which has come a long way since its original incarnation as a clan of orcs. So far I know, it goes kind of like this: Old Gods want to destroy Azeroth, Deathwing works for the Old Gods, Cho'gall works for Deathwing; ergo, we must kill Cho'gall ... or something like that. It seems a little hokey in my book, but anything with that many eyes around its body cannot be cool and probably needs to die, anyway.
So let's get to killin'!
The fun or not-fun encounter. Week to week, this encounter has drastically varying difficulty depending on which adds are "active" that week. As a shout-out for their brilliant work, you should check out Theory: Halfus is not Random by Simca. Thus far, the predictions have been accurate to the letter, so it is a good way of knowing which combination of dragons you will face before actually getting there.
Halfus himself doesn't actually have any innate abilities aside from Furious Roar, which comes into play later; instead, what abilities he has is dependent on which dragons are active.
- Slate Dragon Grants Malevolent Strikes to Halfus. Once freed, he will occasionally stun Halfus via Stone Touch.
- Nether Scion Grants Frenzied Assault to Halfus. Once freed, he will use Nether Blindness on Halfus.
- Time Warden Grants Fireball Barrage to the Proto-Behemoth. Once freed, he will use Time Dilation to slow the fireballs.
- Orphaned Emerald Whelp Grants Scorching Breath to the Proto-Behemoth. Once freed, they will use Atrophic Poison on the Behemoth.
- Storm Rider Grants Shadow Nova to Halfus. Once freed, he will use Cyclone Winds on Halfus.
When those combinations are up, it pays to have three tanks if you can spare it. Any time that Time and Storm are both up, you need to active both of them right from the start -- you simply cannot wait until after one has died. Any time that you have Slate, Nether, and Time/Storm, then it helps a lot to release Slate and Time/Storm right from the start. You don't have to, but MS will stack ridiculously fast, so your tanks need to be on their toes.
Other combinations aren't nearly as bad. Provided you don't have any of the special cases mentioned above, the order of "threat" from the dragons is as follows: Time/Storm > Whelp > Nether > Slate. Nether and Slate only increase tank healing, which is fairly easy until phase 2 anyway, so they can usually be saved for last. Releasing Nether provides a much higher net reduction in tank damage than Slate does, which is why you usually want it released first when both are up.
Which spec to use for the encounter is based upon which adds are up as well. Affliction or destruction both work rather well, and demonology isn't all that bad on weeks when the whelps are up. Overall, though, destruction will probably be your best choice.
Taking down a dragon As soon as the fight is engaged, you need to release a dragon and have it tanked. There are only three dragons active any given week, and you want to kill two of them, with the third being released and off-tanked for the remainder of the encounter. Should you not have a third tank but have a combination that requires having two dragons active at the start, another option is to have one tank take both, blow Bloodlust at the start, and burn down one of the adds as quickly as possible.
The reason that the dragons are released, aside from their standard debuffs that they apply on the boss, they also hit Halfus with Dragon's Vengeance. This damage increase is very important; Halfus has a fairly tight enrage timer to contend with. As you take down the initial two dragons, here are a few things to remember.
- Keep your DoTs on Halfus. He's going to take additional damage from them, and you need that damage anyway.
- Keep your pet on Halfus. Again, the pet is going to do more damage to Halfus than the add, so it should stick on him like glue.
- Make a macro that will target Halfus and cast Fel Flame when you need to move, instead of casting it on the dragon you are attacking.
- Unless you absolutely have to, don't bother assisting to take down the Emerald Whelps. Other classes/specs have far better AoE than you; focus Halfus instead -- except demonology. Destruction can toss out a Bane of Havoc on a Whelp, however.
- Self-healing and Nether Protection are really amazing when you have Whelps up -- more so if Time is up as well.
- Bloodlust should be used at some point during this phase.
Phase 2 Once Halfus drops down to 50% health, you've entered into phase 2. By this point, you should have two of the dragons dead, with the third being off-tanked (or possibly dying from splash damage). From here on out, Halfus will use Furious Roar, which will deal raid damage and knock players down every so often. This is why Bloodlust is used in phase 1 -- Furious Roar will interrupt a portion of the duration every time.
Always make sure that your DoTs are running for a Furious Roar. According to others, you can use instant-cast abilities between each knockdown on a Roar, but I have never had this be the case. No matter what I do, I have never, not once, been able to actually cast anything during a Furious Roar. It could just be me or lag or something to that effect, but take it as you will.
One thing you can do is move out of Fireball Barrage. Should one appear under you during Roar, you can move from it in between knockdowns.
Valiona and Theralion
This fight saddens me. For those not in the know, Theralion used to be so ... fabulous! Now he very much bleh. I can understand why they made the change, but I still disagree with it. The previous voice just made the encounter far more enjoyable. Although I'd probably wipe more with the old voice; I'd be falling out of my chair laughing too much to actually focus. At least it wouldn't be another Sindragosa.
Right, so, two dragons, one cup. No, no, that's not right; two dragons, one raid! And one room! Yes, that's it. At any given time, one dragon is on the ground being tanked, while the other is up off in La La Land picking daisies. Or they might be tossing horribly nasty spells at the raid, I don't really remember which -- but I'm so leaning towards daisies.
Valiona You always want to start with the sister dragon first. While Valiona is on the ground, you'll have a few abilities to contend with.
- Blackout Group in a predetermined location -- we use the tail -- then dispel the debuff.
- Devoring Flame Blizzard's new trick mechanic of the expansion. It's the same as the breath from the dragon on heroic Drahga Shadowdurner. Move out of it if you can; if you happen to be caught right in the middle of the turn with no out, your best bet is to actually run straight backwards away from the boss.
- Twilight Blast Hits random raid members and deals a small splash zone of damage; spread out to avoid additional damage.
- Dazzling Destruction Cast right before transitioning dragons; creates swirling pink vortexes on the ground that you need to run out of and avoid at all costs.
Aside from that, this is the mechanically boring phase of the fight. Nothing is really new nor that difficult to deal with.
Theralion During Dazzling Destruction, you want your raid to start clustering into two groups: ranged/healers and melee. Our raid group has all the ranged players cluster at the door where you enter, but your spot can be anywhere along the outer-ish edge of the map. The abilities in this phase aren't too difficult, either, but they do require a lot more movement and paying attention.
- Engulfing Magic Increases damage/healing done but causes the player to explode in an area around them for the same amount. It does proc off DoT ticks! Get out of the group if you have this.
- Twilight Meteorite A large meteor that targets a random raid member. The damage done is split between nearby players, so group up to avoid being one-shot.
- Fabulous Flames Targets a random raid member and breathes fabulous, pink-purple fire at them! Also leaves behind an area of flames; move out of this.
- Deep Breath Valiona flys past one-third of the room and covers it in flames. Call out the location and move from it.
The two major things to watch out for are Fabulous Flames and Engulfing Magic. Fabulous Flames is rather easy to deal with -- just move, but be sure that everyone moves as a group. There may still be a Meteorite flying at someone, and you want as many people to share that damage as you can.
Engulfing Magic is a different animal. It heavily increases your damage, but any damage that you deal is also dealt to those around you as well. Given that you'll have DoTs running on the boss at any given time, your group members are going to start taking damage right away, so you have to move fast. Demonic Teleport is nice, but since the group will be moving around the room, it is unreliable.
If you happen to be affliction, take off Glyph of Soul Swap for this encounter should you be using it. You can use Soul Swap to remove your DoTs from Theralion and prevent your group from taking additional damage while you move into position. Soul Swap is also useful should you have both Engulfing Magic and Twilight Meteorite, which can happen. Should this occur, do not cast anything else; remove your DoTs if you can and just sit with the rest of the group until the Meteorite hits.
Once you are in position after getting Engulfing Magic, you need to refresh any of your DoTs that don't have an auto-refresh mechanic. DoTs do not automatically update with player buffs, only enemy debuffs, so you need to recast your DoTs for them to benefit from the buff. Any DoT that does auto-refresh itself will adjust for the buff on your next refresh.
Note, the reverse is true as well. Once you lose the debuff, your DoTs will not adjust themselves until they are refreshed. Recast your DoTs just before the buff ends, and try to avoid using Fel Flames until they have ticked down a little bit. It isn't worth it for affliction to avoid using Haunt in order to keep Corruption buffed, so don't worry about that factor.
The kill These two phases keep repeating until the dragons die. A few additional tidbits:
- While Valiona is landing, you will usually get hit with another set of Engulf Magic and a Blackout. Those players with EM should remain outside the group while the rest stacks.
- The second time that Valiona takes off, she will often cast Blackout during Dazzling Destruction; be prepared for that, and split into your two groups after it is removed.
- Never try to run through the boss to avoid Devoring Flame. You take more damage the closer you are to the boss and risk taking too much damage to be healed through before making it. Only run through the boss if you are already at the mouth and can make it before the breath starts.
Be sure to tune in next week, when we mop up the rest of this rabble.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll steer you toward tip-top trinkets and Soulburning your way through Cataclysm.